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Diamanda Galás

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San Diego, California, USA (1979 – present)

Ντιαμάντα Γκαλάς (Romanized: Diamanda Galás) (born August 29, 1955) is a Greek-American avant-garde performance artist, vocalist, and composer. Galás was born and raised in San Diego, California, USA.

Galás is known for being a fiercely confrontational avant-garde performer and is noted for her wailing, four-octave vocal range. Galás was the daughter of Greek Orthodox parents and her singing was roundly discouraged, although her prowess as a classical pianist was nurtured; ultimately, her strict upbringing resulted in a reckless, drug-fueled youth prior to her entrance into the University of California’s music and visual arts program. Galás made her performing debut in 1979 at France’s Festival d’Avignon, which led to an invitation to assume the lead role in composer Vinko Globokar’s politically charged opera Un Jour Comme un Autre. In subsequent solo performance art pieces like Wild Women with Steak Knives and Tragouthia Apo to Aima Exon Fonos, Galás further honed her unique, shattering vocal style, inspired by the Schrei (“shriek”) opera of German expressionism (a form employing a system of four microphones and a series of echoes and delays).

She worked with many avant-garde composers including Phillip Glass, Terry Riley, John Zorn, Iannis Xenakis and Vinko Globokar. She made her performance debut at the Festival d’Avignon in France as the lead in Globokar’s opera, Un Jour Comme Une Autre which deals with the death by torture of a Turkish woman. The work was sponsored by Amnesty International. She also contributed her voice to Francis Ford Coppola’s film Dracula (1992) and appeared on the film’s soundtrack.

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